|A baby muskox rests at the Large Animal Research Station.|
The feasibility study looked at two herd sizes, 36 and 72 muskoxen, to estimate the principal costs and to model different sales scenarios. Although several scenarios showed promise, the study says the most profitable option for either herd size was selling all the qiviut as value-added yarn, coupled with livestock sales.
|Laura Starr measures forage with a |
Qiviut, the soft underwool from muskoxen, is combed from the animals in the spring and prized by knitters. Qiviut is known for its light weight and warmth.
The study notes that the principal competition for farmed qiviut is qiviut from wild sources. Most of the qiviut on the market is harvested from wild muskoxen, according to the study. It is naturally shed by the animals and collected on the tundra or combed from farmed muskoxen.
The price for raw wild qiviut is $220 to $290 per kilogram, depending on the condition, while the current price for raw farmed qiviut is $495 per kilogram.
An Internet search in 2015 showed that small finished goods made out of qiviut, such as hats, scarves and cowls range from $150 to $400. Large finished garments made into designer suits cost $700 to $25,000.
|Qiviut yarn is luxuriously soft.|
Suzanna Caldwell of the The Alaska Dispatch News wrote about the feasibility study and interviewed Starr for a story published in today's edition. Caldwell notes that hurdles to starting a muskox business include the challenge that none are for sale.
Starr was the recipient of a $25,000 Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education grant in 2014 to study the grazing impacts of intensely managed soil and the feasibility of raising muskox in Alaska.